Washington Wizards: 2016-17 regular season player awards

2017 NBA Playoffs

Apr 19, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) reacts after making a three point field goal against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards didn’t get to 50 wins, but the team still had a historic 2016-17 regular season.

The Washington Wizards finished the 2016-17 with a 49-33 record. Finishing as the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference is no small feat. First-year head coach Scott Brooks was hired this past offseason and after making the playoffs in his first try, the Wizards are in good hands.

Point guard John Wall had a career year in his seventh season in the NBA. The former Kentucky Wildcat set a new career-high in steals, averaging 2.1 per game in 2016-17. He also set a new career-high in points per game (23.1), assists per game (10.7) and field goal percentage (45.1 percent).

Wall’s elevated play had a lot to do with the Washington Wizards success this season. Their starting five averaged double figures in scoring and ranked third in the NBA among starting lineups in points per game (82.2).

The Wizards did a lot to rewrite history this season, winning their first Southwest division title in 38 years. This upcoming offseason will be an interesting one, too. The Wizards will have some free agents they’ll need to decide on or they’ll have to let them go.

Either way, the 2016-17 season was a memorable one. Here’s a look at the regular season player awards.

May 2, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Washington Wizards shooting forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) stand next to Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) during the first quarter in game two of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Most Improved Player Award – Kelly Oubre Jr.

Forward Kelly Oubre Jr. came into his own in his second NBA season. After being selected in the 2015 NBA Draft, Oubre is starting to find his niche on the Washington Wizards as a spark off the bench.

He is fitting into his role quite nicely with the Washington Wizards. He averaged 6.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, significant increases from his 2015-16 rookie season.

Oubre set a new career-high in points (19) against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 10. He also had nine rebounds and three steals in the game. He recorded his first double-double  (10 points, 11 rebounds) on Nov. 28 against the Sacramento Kings this season.

The Wizards would be wise to use Oubre more in their defensive lineups. He is one of their more aggressive defenders and rebounders in the closing moments of games. As he continues to adjust to the speed of the NBA game, look for Oubre to break out soon in Washington.

Washington Wizards

May 4, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) gestures after making a three point field goal against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter in game three of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Sixth Man Award – Bojan Bogdanovic

Before the Washington Wizards, forward Bojan Bogdanovic was the second-scoring option on a Brooklyn Nets team headed for the NBA Draft Lottery. Then, he was traded shortly before the NBA Trade Deadline for a first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Now, he’s on a playoff team.

Bogdanovic has fit in quite nicely with the Wizards as their go-to man off the bench. He averaged 12.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 26 games for Washington. He became an instant spark on offense at a key time for the young team.

The Wizards took a gamble on Bogdanovic, giving up a their future first round pick, but so far it’s paid off for them. Considering Bogdanovic has an expiring contract coming up this offseason, he is a top priority to get re-signed in the offseason.

Washington should do everything in their legal power to keep him with this group as his contributions during a full season could overshadow what he’s done in such a small sample of games.

Apr 28, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) celebrates in the closing minutes of their game against the Atlanta Hawks in game six of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Sharpshooter Award – Bradley Beal

Shooting guard Bradley Beal had a career season after signing to a max contract this past summer. This season, Beal was dynamic next to point guard John Wall, making them one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA.

He’s fought off some early injuries as well as some criticism playing alongside Wall to become one of the best shooters in the Eastern Conference. He averaged a career-high 23.1 points, 3.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range.

Beal set the franchise record for three-pointers made in a single-season, surpassing Gilbert Arenas’ record of 205 made three-pointers, set back in 2004-05.

Beal put up 30 points or more in 13 games for the Washington Wizards. They had an 8-5 record in those contests. He made at least one three-pointer in all but four of the 77 games he appeared in for the Wizards as well.

He also did well to increase his assist total (267) next to prolific point guard John Wall. Through five seasons, Beal is coming into his own. He played a total of 77 games this season, after playing 55 games in 2015-16 and 63 games in 2014-15. It is the most games he’s played in during the regular season so far in his young career.

If Beal can continue to stay healthy and continue to develop his game, the Wizards could be seeing a potential NBA Finals trip in their future.

2017 NBA Playoffs

Apr 19, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) reacts after making a three point field goal against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Fearless Leader Award – John Wall

In his seventh NBA season, point guard John Wall has made his presence known on the Washington Wizards all-season long. He averaged 23.1 points, 10.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game this season. His points, assists and steals averages are all new career-highs.

On Nov. 7, Wall broke Hall of Fame center Wes Unseld’s record for career assists in franchise history (3,822). On Dec. 14, he broke the Wizards record for career steals, while recording a career-high 159 steals this season.

Wall didn’t stop there either. He set the single-season franchise record for assists in a single-season on Apr. 2. Rod Strickland set the record for the Washington Bullets back in 1997-98 season but Wall is now the current leader with 829 assists.

Wall is now the all-time leader in three of five major categories in franchise history. There wasn’t a whole lot of talk about him doing either, he just went out and got it done.

Under first year head coach Scott Brooks, Wall has taken on a new attitude where he’s leading by example rather than by a lot of talking. They aren’t the deepest team or the biggest team, but with Wall leading the way, they’ve proven to be one with a lot of heart.

John Wall is their fearless leader and he could lead this team to the NBA Finals one day. They just need a few pieces to fall in their favor.

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